God will live in us while we love one another.
1 John 4:12-13, “No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God dwells in us and his love is perfected in us. This is how we know that we dwell in him and he in us: because he has given us some of his spirit.” (6/6/16)
Reading theology written by John is a lot like reading physics written by Einstein. He’s making as simple as he can, and I still don’t get it. According to John Wesley, John treats the first part of vs. 12, “if we love one another, God abides in us,” in vss. 13-16, and the second part, “his love is perfected in us,” in vss. 17-19. So obviously John knew I wasn’t going to get it; we’ll look at his explanation in the weeks to come. For the rest of this week, we’ll look a little more at the idea that God’s spirit dwells within us when we love God and love our neighbor.
John 15:9-17 (6/7/16)
As we saw yesterday, if we love one another, God abides in us. Jesus explained that abiding in his love, and therefore in the love of God, depends on keeping his commandments. The two greatest commandments? Love God; love your neighbor. Obedience to God cannot
be separated from loving God and loving your neighbor.
Jeremiah 31:31-40 (6/8/16)
At the Last Supper, Jesus said that the bread and wine were now symbols of the “new covenant” (Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25). The disciples were no doubt expecting the normal Passover service, and Jesus’ words at that point were not part of it, so they might have been surprised. On the other hand, the idea of a “new covenant” was not new: the LORD had promised a new covenant long before, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, so they might not have been all that
surprised! The disciples would already have known that the new covenant depended on obedience to God’s law and on knowledge of God in their hearts.
2 Corinthians 3:1-6 (6/9/16)
“A letter from Christ ... written with the Spirit of the living God ... on tablets of human hearts.” What a great job description for Christians! God is love; when his Spirit is written on our hearts, how can we be unloving?
Leviticus 26:3-13; Ezekiel 37:27 (6/10/16)
As we have seen, loving God means obeying God’s commandments and vice versa. If we love God and keep his commandments, God will dwell among us, and we will be his people. Other blessings will surely follow, but God’s presence is itself the greatest blessing.
God sent his son to save the world.
1 John 4:14-15, “And we have seen and are testifying that the Father sent the Son, the savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God.” (6/13/16)
John continues to dwell (ha!) on the topic of abiding in God and God’s love. He reminds us that he, John, has been an eyewitness to what he is reporting, which is that God loves us so much
that he sent somebody – his own son – to save us from ourselves.
John 6:32-40 (6/14/16)
One thing we saw in our study on suffering
is that God is as confused, disappointed, and unhappy about most of our suffering as we are. God’s intention is that not one of his children should be lost. God sent physical bread from heaven to the children of Israel in the desert to save their physical lives (Exodus 16), and later he sent spiritual bread, the true bread of Jesus Christ, to save their spiritual lives. The will of God is that none of us should be lost, because he loves us. Only by turning your back on God can you be lost.
John 3:13-21 (6/15/16)
Jesus continues to compare God’s saving work among the children of Israel in the desert with his saving work in the person of Jesus. Just as the bronze serpent was lifted up on a pole to save their physical lives (Numbers 21), so Jesus would be lifted up on a cross to save our spiritual lives. Then comes the Most Searched For, Most Popular, Best Known Bible Verse
: John 3:16. This was my favorite Bible verse even when I was a kid, before I knew it was famous, and it could well be yours, too. God loves us: he wants to save us, not to condemn us.
Ephesians 2:1-10 (6/16/16)
Paul’s first point is that even when we were dead in sin, God loved enough us to send Jesus Christ to save us. (We need to remember this when we are considering the sins of others.) His second point is that we are saved by grace, through faith, for good works. God loves you, but he does expect you to do your job once you are saved.
Luke 2:25-32 (6/17/16)
Do you have a “bucket list”? I had been hearing about them for quite a while before I figured out that it’s the list of things you want to do before you die. Simeon only had one thing on his bucket list: to see the “consolation of Israel,” one of the Old Testament promises from God to his people, fulfilled. When he saw the baby Jesus, sent from God to bring salvation, he said, “Now you are letting me depart in peace!”
God is love.
1 John 4:16, “And we have known and have believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who dwells in love dwells in God, and God dwells in him.
I think that God’s love could be the powerful force in the world, and the only thing standing in the way of that is us. If I really, truly know and believe that God loves me – for no other reason than God is love – then I’m forced to the conclusion that God loves you, too. If I really, truly know and believe that God loves you, then I will never deliberately harm you.
What if everyone knew that God is love? Within a generation, our churches would be full and our prisons would be empty. Our charitable giving would be up, and our insurance rates would be down. Our police would be giving directions and finding lost dogs. Medical research budgets would be up, and army budgets would be down (you still need the National Guard to help fight forest fires).
God is love. Tell somebody today.
Nehemiah 9:11-32 (6/21/16)
After their return from exile in Babylon, God gave the Jews some wonderful leaders, including Nehemiah. Nehemiah got all the Jewish people together and reviewed their history so that they could think about what God had done for them, what their response had been, and how they might improve their response in the future. Nehemiah repeatedly pointed out that in the past God had showered miracles and mercies upon his people because of his steadfast love, but the people (that’s us) have repeatedly ignored and disobeyed God.
Why do we do that? We have a God who loves us individually and collectively, and instead of loving him back and following his example by loving others, we are presumptuous and stubborn. This week, let’s remember that God’s love is steadfast and inexhaustible. (Note, however, that God’s patience can be exhausted; see vs. 27.) Just for this week, let’s try to pass some of God’s love along to all of our fellow human beings.
Jonah 4:1-11 (6/22/16)
I am so
much like Jonah! I love my cat, who is annoying; I love my computer, which isn’t even alive. Do I love my enemies? Ha! If I loved them, they wouldn’t be
my enemies, right? Oh, wait ...
God loves those we consider our enemies just as much as he loves our friends, just as much as he loves us. Do we do well to be angry at their salvation, or to rejoice?
Romans 8:31-39 (6/23/16)
Paul gives us one the most powerful and beautiful affirmations of God’s love: “Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Psalms 145:8-9, 86:15 (6/24/16)
I once read that “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” is the most common description of God in the Bible. (It could be true; I haven’t checked for myself. Always check for yourself.)
I do know that the Old Testament refers to the steadfast love of God about 190 times; I checked.
Perfect love casts out fear.
1 John 4:17-18, “This is how love has been perfected among us: that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because just as he is, we are also, in this world. There is no fear in love. Instead, perfect love casts out fear. Fear has to do with punishment, so the one who fears has not been perfected in love.” (6/27/16)
Both the Bible and our common language talk about “the fear of God.” Fear of God is certainly an issue for all of us sinners. John says that as we come to love God completely – because “perfected” here means “has been completed” – we will be like Christ (the “he” of vs. 17), and therefore we will have no need to fear punishment. John Wesley says, “perfect, adult love casts out slavish fear: because such fear has torment – And so is inconsistent with the happiness of love. A natural man has neither fear nor love; one that is awakened, fear without love; a babe in Christ, love and fear; a father in Christ, love without fear.”
Genesis 14:14 – 15:6 (6/28/16)
At first glance, this story may not seem to be related to our theme, “God is love.” And who can imagine Abraham being allied with Sodom and Gomorrah?? Remember that Abraham’s nephew, Lot, had moved to Sodom. When Lot was taken captive, Abraham went after him. When Abe returns in triumph, the king of Salem blesses Abraham in the name of God. The king of Sodom tries to reward him as well, but he will take nothing as a physical reward.
Immediately after this, we hear a conversation between God and Abraham. God promises Abe that his reward will be very great, but Abraham responds, “What do I need with a reward? What I need is a child
!” God promises him a son and innumerable descendants. In spite of his age, not to mention Sarah’s age, Abraham believes it. This is a story of the tender love between God and Abraham that leads to belief, trust, and salvation.
Deuteronomy 31:1-8; 2 Timothy 1:5-7 (6/29/16)
Moses repeatedly encourages the Israelites to be strong and courageous, and not to fear or be dismayed. Why? Because the LORD is with them. Paul says the same thing. Love of God casts out fear.
Mark 4:35-41 (6/30/16)
Jesus makes a direct connection between fear and lack of faith. As our faith increases, our love for Jesus is perfected, and our fear grows less.
John 6:14-15, Matthew 14:22-23, Mark 6:47-50, Matthew 14:28-33, Mark 6:51b-52 (7/1/16)
The “sign” that John refers to in vs. 14 was the feeding of the 5000. Not only was it impressive, it was a sign of the coming of the Messiah, and a sign of God’s overwhelming love and care for his people. The disciples didn’t get it. When Jesus comes to them on the water a few hours later, do they say, “What a relief! The Messiah himself has come to rescue us because he loves us”? No-oo. They say, “Aaagh! It’s a ghost! We’re all gonna die-eee!” So then he calms the wind and water, and they still
don’t get it. Their fear keeps them from the loving trust that they should have had.
By the way, Mark 6:51b-52 is really important. Only Mark makes the connection between the disciples’ lack of understanding of the banquet and their astonishment at the calming of the storm. Whenever there is something critical to be said about the disciples, Mark is the one who says it.
More of God is Love
Love One Another
Dwelling in God's Love
Love God; Love your neighbor.
Copyright 2016 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.
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Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
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for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
St. John’s United Methodist Church,
2626 Arizona NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110
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